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Rheinmetall’s MISSION MASTER robotic vehicle will join a two-year Concept Development & Experimentation (CD&E) programme run by the Dutch Army. The Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RAS) Unit of the 13th Light Brigade is running a multi-year CD&E programme to pave the way for an operational unit. As part of this, various innovative operational concepts will be shaped to create desired Future Manoeuvre Elements that will enable the Dutch Army to execute missions more effectively. These operational concepts include the use of Autonomous Unmanned Ground Vehicles (A-UGV).

Rheinmetall is a world-renowned manufacturer of UGVs, with a strong focus on autonomous and modular warfare solutions. After initial successful trials in the Netherlands and Scotland, Rheinmetall’s MISSION MASTER is now joining this two-year CD&E programme to further develop these innovative operational concepts, having been transferred in November 2020.  In shaping operational concepts, the RAS unit and Rheinmetall will be collaborating with innovative Dutch enterprises, knowledge centres and universities.

Modular A-UGV

As a modular system, Rheinmetall’s MISSION MASTER enhances the combat performance of soldiers through carrying out a multitude of dull, dirty, and dangerous tasks that troops would otherwise have to perform themselves. The MISSION MASTER can operate in autonomous or semiautonomous mode as a fully-fledged member of the combat team and is designed for maximum flexibility as it can readily be adapted for a wide variety of different missions thanks to modular build-ons, specially engineered for quick installation. Tasks it can perform include:

  • cargo transport
  • casualty evacuation
  • CBRN detection
  • surveillance
  • acting as a mobile communications relay station
  • fire support (in this scenario, the human operator decides if and when to engage targets, something the remotely controlled effectors are never allowed to do autonomously).

NATO Success

The handover marks the vehicle’s second success involving a NATO customer. In the UK, Her Majesty’s Armed Forces ordered four Rheinmetall MISSION MASTER robotic vehicles in April 2020. Configured for transporting cargo, these formed part of the British Army’s Robotic Platoon Vehicle programme which is designed to determine the extent to which unmanned vehicles can boost the combat effectiveness and capabilities of dismounted troops at platoon level. This delivery also comprised two stretcher systems that can be integrated into the cargo vehicle in just 60 seconds while training and service support alongside spare parts were part of the order. The vehicles were supplied by Rheinmetall Canada, with Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL) providing on-location support services in its capacity as cooperation partner. In the Netherlands, Rheinmetall Canada’s cooperation partner is Rheinmetall Defence Nederland in Ede, just east of Utrecht.

Jack Richardson